Дарс 1: Хьан цIе хIун ю?
Lesson 1: What's your name?
In this lesson you will learn:
Шун цхьалгIa дешнаш (Your first words)
Дарсан хIума (Lesson Material)
In these lessons, we will learn how to greet another person, ask how they are feeling, and ask what their names are. We will also be able to tell what our names are and engage in simple conversation.
Маршалла хаттар (Greetings)
Note that the phonetics which are written out for pronunciaton follow English pronunciation rules. The letter ä will represent the palochka, allowing you to make the I sound you have learnt in the Alphabet lesson. This is again temporary, try to read the Cyrillic alphabet instead of the phonetics.
How to greet someone:
How to ask about feelings:
How to express thanks:
How to exchange names:
How to say yes, no, and maybe:
Some other useful phrases:
- The greetings, Ассаламу Iалайкум and Салам, along with their replies, Ва Iалайкум ассалам and Ва салам, are derived from the religion of Islam, and borrowed from Arabic. This is a very special greeting to give to a Chechen, especially if you are not Chechen or Muslim. This literally means Peace be upon you, and can be found in many other languages that have had or still have a strong Islamic influence. Again, you do not have to be Muslim to say this greeting.
- In Chechen, like many European languages, there are two ways to address a person. There is a singular and plural form (Like in English saying you and you all), then there is also a familiar form and polite form. We have encountered these in the greetings Маршалла ду шуьга and хьоьга. The familiar form, хьоьга, is also the same as the singular form, and is used when talking to people you know well or if you are in a younger generation, used amongst people around your age, or talking to your pet dog or cat. The polite form, шуьга, is used when speaking to strangers, teachers, in business, or people of higher status in the social class. It is also used when talking to more than one person. When in doubt, use the polite form.
- You probably have been either baffled or "laughing" at the way to say yes and no in Chechen. Indeed, you have read the pronunciation correctly. To say yes in Chechen, it is a quick Ha sound but cut it short at the end. To get the sound, try to just blow out air and whilst your mouth is open, stop your breath from both your nose and mouth. Do this really fast and you have just said Yes in Chechen.
- To say no in Chechen, it is a little different than yes and a bit softer. If you speak sarcasm, all you have to do is give a fake laugh, (ha ha), but hold the first ha longer than the second. You should realise too that luckily Chechen is not a language to be spoken fast like French, Spanish, or even English. Each word needs to be said clearly in order to be understood. Also realise that Chechens are not used to hearing foreigners speak their language, so you need to really emphasise these sounds that sound weird to us English speakers in order to be understood. So try it again bearing this in mind, Haa-ha.
At this point, you might feel frustrated with this new starting vocabulary and the odd sounds of Chechen. It is important to approach language learning in a positive way, and enjoy it. If you feel frustrated, take a deep breath, take a break, and come back to it. The more you practise and look at something, the more it will become natural. Chechen is not like any language you have probably heard of, so of course it will be different, but remember, the results can be very rewarding. And of course, this is a self teaching course, so go at your own pace. You don't have to go on to the next section or lessons until you feel comfortable!
Chechen grammar is extremely complicated for Indo-European language speakers. There are 8 grammatical cases (if you are unfamiliar with a case system, don't worry, we will cover it in the future lessons). This means that a word will change form or add a suffix depending on its action in the sentence. As of now, we will focus on the more spoken aspect of Chechen whilst covering the basic essential parts of the grammar.
Pronouns are nouns which substitute other nouns in a certain phrase or sentence. For example, in English pronouns are I, you, he, she, it. In Chechen they are:
|I||Со||We||Тхо, Вай *|
|He, She, it||Иза||They||Уьш|
- In Chechen there are two ways to say We. These forms are called Inclusive and Exclusive. The inclusive form, Вай, (sometimes pronounced vay depending on the dialect) is used when you are including the listener. (For example: We, both you and me, will go to the store). The exclusive form, Тхо, is used when you are referring to a group which does not include the listener. (For example: We, my friend and I, are going to the store).
- Note that in Chechen, pronouns are never capitalised unless of course they are starting the sentence. (In English, we always capitalise I in the sentence. Like most European languages, we do not capitalise cо in Chechen).
Классаш и хоттам (Classes and the copula)
Now that we have learnt the pronouns, we can start building our first Chechen sentences. Before we get into constructing our basic sentences, we need to cover some explanations first in English.
The Class System is something unique in the Chechen language. Instead of having each word fall into a gender category such as masculine, feminine, or neuter, Chechen words each belong to a specific class. These determine the grammatical course of the other words in the sentence, especially certain important verbs. There are 6 classes in Chechen, which we can remember as V Y D Y B B "(to help you remember the order: vyu dyubb)" or В Ю Д Ю Б Б. The good part of this class system is that the chart is very easy to memorise and figure out ways to remember it. The bad part is that there isn't really any pattern to determine the class of inanimate objects.
Let's start with the first 2 classes. These are the easier ones to learn, because they actually do have a similar gender attribute found in languages like English and Finnish. This aspect is called natural gender. Meaning if you are talking about a boy, this boy is obviously masculine, along with uncle, grandfather, man, an American man and so on. These words fall into Class 1 (V - В). If the word refers to a woman, such as wife, girl, aunt, a British woman, these words fall into Class 2 (Y - Ю).
But what does this mean? These will make the Chechen copula, to be. A copula is just a technical linguistic word for a verb. In other words, we are now learning the way to make sentences like I am a boy, he is a man, she is a girl and so on. The words am, is, and are will go at the end of the sentence, just like any other verb in Chechen. So you will wind up saying I boy am, he man is, she girl is. And of course these words will change appropriately to the class.
Now let's take a look at how to say am, is, and are in Chechen for the first two classes. (Note: This is called conjugating a verb).
We can look at this chart and easily master it. Just remember in the singular (I, you, he, she, it) that ву always refers to masculine and ю always refers to feminine. In the plural, the copula is the same for both classes. We and the plural form of You both use ду and They use бу. That it! You have just mastered your first 2 classes of Chechen! Now let's use them and make our sentences!
Нохчийн предложни (The Chechen Sentence)
The sentence order in Chechen is Subject + Object/Predicate + Verb (SOV), similar to Korean and Japanese. What does this mean? Take note of the following English examples of sentence structure:
English: I am a boy, and she is a girl.
Chechen: I boy am, and she girl is.
This will take some time to get used to. Just keep practising! But now let's start making some sentences in Chechen. Look at the examples if you have difficulty understand the explanations, some people can just learn a language by seeing examples>
Со кIант ву - I am a boy
Иза кIант ву - He is a boy
Иза йоI ю - She is a girl
Хьо зуда ю - You are a woman
Со кIант ву a хьо йоI ю - I am a boy and you are a girl
Why don't you try a few out yourself? How would you say, "He is a man?" Now translate this sentence from Chechen to English: "Хьо йоI ю я зуда ю? Со зуда ю.". Yes, со кхета that these sentences are very elementary, but we start at the basics and we will build on them.
Note that sometimes the Chechen word, оьздангалла is used to mean culture, but культура is more common.
Ислам нохчийн маттахь (Islam in the Chechen language)
Ассаламу Iалайкум (assalamu alaykum!) Do you remember from this lesson what the proper response would be? Ва Iалайкум Ассалам (wa alaykum assalam!) This greeting comes from the Arabic, peace be upon you, which is also the universal Islamic greeting. Chechnya is a Muslim country and the language has been welcoming influence from Arabic, the original language of the Holy Quran and also used in daily prayers. I am sure you have noticed by now the many sounds that come from Arabic are also found in the Chechen language. Besides these sounds, there are a few phrases that you will commonly hear when listening to Chechens speak their language.
Besides the Islamic greeting, Assalamu alaykum, there are a few others you might encounter, such as ЛаилахIа иллаАллахIа, laa illaha illallah. This means "there is no god but Allah". АллахIа, pronounced Allah, is the Arabic word for the monotheistic God. Chechens might also use the word Дала or Дела as well to refer to God, but АллахIа is more common. Another common Islamic phrase would be ИншАллахIа, inshallah, which literally means "God willing". Some words like the word for thank you, баркалла, have totally integrated into the Chechen language and have derived from the Arabic. In a later lesson, we will learn religious vocabulary and more about religion in Chechnya, but for now, it is a good time to understand the Islamic influence on the Chechen people and their beautiful language.
Дика ду! Молодец!, you have done well so far. How do you like Chechen now? Take a break, review what you have learnt, then move on and read a little about Chechen culture and do the exercises. When you are walking in town, in a store, or whatever the place may be around people, try saying to yourself (not outloud, unless you want people staring at you) these simple sentences, like He is a boy, and he is a man.